Local teens get right into political game

One-year-old Republican
group includes 25 youths
from Middlesex County

BY SANDI CARPELLO
Correspondent

One-year-old Republican
group includes 25 youths
from Middlesex County
BY SANDI CARPELLO
Correspondent


FARRAH MAFFAI staff Members of the Teenage Republicans of Middlesex County, including (clockwise from left) Kay Chen, Elliot Chiu, Sameer Sood, Jasen Sood and Ronald Udasin, at Udasin’s East Brunswick home this week.FARRAH MAFFAI staff Members of the Teenage Republicans of Middlesex County, including (clockwise from left) Kay Chen, Elliot Chiu, Sameer Sood, Jasen Sood and Ronald Udasin, at Udasin’s East Brunswick home this week.

EAST BRUNSWICK — While most teenagers await the day they are old enough to drive, 16-year-old Ronald Udasin anticipates the day he’s old enough to vote.

Until then, the junior at East Brunswick High School, who founded a local teenage Republicans organization last June, will do everything in his power to make sure that the GOP takes every open political seat this November.

Since their inception last year as the Teenage Republicans of East Brunswick — now expanded and renamed the Middlesex County Teenage Republicans — Udasin and 25 other teenagers from around the county have been going door to door, arduously campaigning for the re-election of President George W. Bush and other GOP candidates. Participating in monthly discussions with New Jersey Republican giants like state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., Assemblyman Bill Baroni and 2001 gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, the teens have formed solid opinions on political issues at the local, state and national levels.

"A lot of us are interested in affirmative action," said Udasin, who hopes for an illustrious career in the U.S. military. "We are also interested in lowering taxes. We see from our parents’ losing money that the tax rate is too high."

Kay Chen, a 16-year-old aspiring politician and the club’s secretary, calls local and state politics her "passion." The East Brunswick teen said she vehemently opposes political corruption and is against gay marriage. She is, however, in favor of tax cuts.

"Let’s face it, tax cuts work. People like getting money in the mail," she said.

While Chen noted that she does not agree with some of Bush’s policies, Udasin thinks he is the only logical choice for America.

"I think the [Democrats’] vision for this country is not right," Udasin said. "Bush is competent. He’s keeping the country safe. I don’t think his opposition is able to do that."

Mike Lachs, of East Brunswick, the county’s tax board commissioner who is the adult advisor to the group, said the club breaks the common stereotype that teenagers don’t care about politics or current events.

"These kids are fantastic. They are incredibly smart and incredibly interested in the history of politics. A lot of times you watch the news and you get the idea that kids don’t really care," he said. "These kids care about their country and they care about each other. This club is not a dog eat dog environment where everyone is trying to become president. It’s a social club as well."

Udasin, who became interested in politics while working on Schundler’s unsuccessful 2001 campaign against Gov. James E. McGreevey, said the organization, which started with less than a handful of teens from East Brunswick, now includes students from all over Middlesex County.

Members hail from towns including Old Bridge, South River, Plainsboro and South Plainfield.

"When I first started the club, I had to get people to come as a favor to me," he said. "Now, I can get them to come without pushing so hard."

The organization is always looking for new members. Anyone between the ages of 13 and 19 is invited to attend the next meeting, scheduled for April 27 at 7:45 p.m. at the Middlesex County Republican Headquarters, 593 Route 18 in East Brunswick. Schundler is expected to be a guest speaker at the meeting.

The group also plans to host a debate between two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 12th Congressional district.

For more information about the group, call (732) 718-2219, visit its Web site at www.mctars.org, or e-mail rgudasin@comcast.net.